WMIC convened as scheduled on Friday February 20 with twenty members attending. Following introductions and welcome to new community representatives, members of the Leadership Council in attendance provided an overview of the meeting with the Lt. Governor Murray and the public announcement of the funding of the WMRCN. It was reported that Leadership Council Vice Chair Lynne Wallace acknowledged the Governor and Lt. Governor’s commitment to ending homelessness noting appreciation on behalf of Western MA RCN and regional networks statewide. It is anticipated that the Commonwealth will be moving forward with contracting with PVPC (convening agency) within weeks.
At our January 30 WMIC meeting there were concerns expressed regarding improving communication and feedback among WMRCN stakeholders. This site was established; the WMRCN Core Group noted that while information is being read, feedback comments have been limited. Efforts to facilitate comments will include a start-up entry immediately following a post requesting feedback.
The WMRCN Regional Coordinator draft job description was disseminated and discussed. Feedback is requested as it is a priority to fill this role as soon as possible. Given the responsibilities of this position, this site will be referenced while seeking applicants in order to supplement the job description information. Hard copies of the revised WMRCN Scope of Service and Budget were disseminated.
The Individual Sub-Committee Chair reported that four meetings are taking place monthly across the region (Berkshire/Springfield/Northampton/Westfield) ; the meeting schedule will be posted along with updates and meeting minutes. Hard copies of the WMRCN Initial Housing Screen-Adult and REACH Team Member Information Sheet were distributed. In addition, CHAPA Fact Sheet: An Act Relative to Community Housing and Services (legislation re supportive housing) as well as information regarding HousingWorks resources were made available.
A recommendation to establish a calendar of monthly meetings was made; the WMRCN Core Group will follow-up on this recommendation.
The Family Sub-committee Co-Chair reported on the February 10 meeting. Information regarding the DTA Homeless Unit at the Holyoke Office was presented and members discussed addressing the challenges facing homeless families. The sub-committee will reconvene in mid-March.
Poignant discussion regarding the impact of homelessness on children and families took place. Members discussed early intervention and prevention efforts and began to tap into innovative and respectful opportunities to engage natuarally occurring supports. WMIC members identified increasing the involvement public education and parenting resources as well as the need to expand the network beyond its current configuration. This discussion will be carried into future WMIC meetings.
Information from MBHP was presented regarding CSP resources for supportive services. The DCF member indicated the possibility of resources to address some of the concerns identified in the above paragraph.
WMIC will meet on Friday March 20 from 10 am to noon at MBHP.